This neat little card came to me via Papergreat reader Linda Durkos as part of our Ephemera Swap1 earlier this year involving E.H. Koester Bakery coupons and a small box of her family's "junk" paper.
The blank 1944 card is titled "Imperial Domain of the Golden Dragon" and was used to certify that an individual:
SILENT MYSTERIES OF THE FAR EAST
Having Crossed the 180th Meridian"
The 180th meridian, which passes mostly through the Pacific Ocean2, is used as the basis for the International Date Line.
And so this very unofficial card is an example of something that is given to sailors and soldiers who cross the meridian while on duty. It is a rite of passage. Similar cards or certificates are given for crossing the equator, the Arctic Circle, the Antarctic Circle and other spots of geographic significance.
Here are a few examples, compiled by Naval History and Heritage Command:
- Golden Shellback: Crossing of the equator at the 180th meridian.
- Order of the Ditch: Transiting the Panama Canal.
- Royal Order of Whale Bangers: Crew members who accidentally fired at a whale, unfortunately mistaking it for a submarine.
- Sea Squatters: Member who takes to the water and spends more than 24 hours on a life raft.
See the full list here and read more about the history of these salty certficates here.
Are you entering Papergreat's exciting first Postcard Caption Contest? Details are in yesterday's post.
1. I think "Ephemera Swap" would be a great reality show. Everything else is a reality show, so why not something centered around postcards, advertising, stuff tucked away inside old books and other bits of paper? I am available to serve as a consultant if anyone from History or A&E wants to start putting this together.
2. Some other places the 180th meridian passes through include the Arctic Ocean, Russia's Wrangel Island (not Alaska's Wrangell, which was previously featured on Papergreat), Amchitka Pass, and the Fijian islands of Vanua Levu, Rabi, and Taveuni.